- The county generates 180 to 200 tonnes of garbage monthly from its 60 markets and shopping centres
- Boiyo said the county has put in place measures to protect the environment and natural resources.
What to do with all the garbage strewn in Vihiga county? Clean it up, of course.
Waste management has remained a major challenge for the county, which generates 180 to 200 tonnes of garbage monthly from its 60 markets and shopping centres
Markets, such as Cheptulu, Shamakhokho, Mudete, Chavakali, Mbale, Majengo, Kilingili, Mahanga, Kima and Luanda, are choking in filth.
The problem is caused by poor waste collection and littering.
Environment and Natural Resources chief officer Richard Boiyo said there is an agency whose mandate is waste management.
"Garbage not only pollutes the environment but also the air and water," he said.
Boiyo spoke to the Star at his office in Mbale, the county's headquarters, on Friday.
He said water pollution affects aquatic life the same way air pollution affects living things on the earth.
Boiyo said proper waste management will safeguard people's surroundings.
"We need to lead by example. [I'm] an environmental expert, the county CEO too; so we need to lead by example," he said.
Boiyo said the county has put in place measures to protect the environment and natural resources.
CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME
Boiyo said cleanliness starts with individuals at home.
He said if people do not keep their homes clean, they are likely to be invaded by diseases.
"So when we say let's manage waste within our jurisdiction, we are simply trying to [protect] ourselves from diseases," Boiyo said.
"The odour from garbage might lead to respiratory complications and airborne diseases."
Away from the home, heaps of trash at trading centres are an eyesore and ruin the county's image, he said.
The chief officer said the piles of rubbish could lead to disease outbreaks.
The waste also attracts scavengers such as wild dogs and wild cats, which pose a risk to humans.
"Having garbage in markets may lead to sewerage system blockage that could lead to flooding in towns," Boiyo said.
"Furthermore, the stench is likely to disrupt business."
He cautioned that traders might refuse to pay revenue over poor refuse collection and buyers could shy away from dirty markets.
Therefore, keeping the county clean is meant to forestall economic sabotage.
Governor Wilbur Ottichilo is an environmentalist and chairman of Environment and Climate Change at the Council of Governors.
This means he must lead by example on environmental matters, Boiyo said
"We proposed to hold a cleanup every last Saturday of the month and involve various stakeholders," he said.
Boiyo said the business community, financial institutions and learning institutions, among others, are involved.
"This cleanup programme will help the county to keep markets and shopping centres clean," he said.
The official said the Environment department will present guidelines to the county assembly for legislation to sustain the programme.
Boiyo said they have placed skips in markets to hold refuse until it is moved to the dumpsite.
He said vendors of edible goods have been urged to put their waste in bins for easier collection.
Anyone who is found littering will be fined, Boiyo said.
"We have proposed that those who will be found littering will be arrested and fined Sh1,000," the chief officer said.
Boiyo said they are also drafting a supplementary budget to secure Sh15 million to hire more cleaners on contract.
However, there would be no need for the cleaners if people disposed of trash responsibly, he added.
"We are currently coming up with a policy on how to manage private garbage where either they will dump it on their own or the county does it for a fee that will be agreed upon," Boiyo said.
Insufficient workers is one of the major challenges in waste management, the chief officer said.
The other is identifying a dumpsite.
"We have been trying to source a dumpsite for Hamisi subcounty which will be a plus because it will serve parts of Sabatia and Vihiga," Boiyo said.
Not sorting garbage at source is a problem Boiyo says they have failed to cure.
"We plan to set up garbage units per subcounty where we shall have decaying materials on their own and recyclable materials on their own," he said.
"In our health facility we have set up incinerators which they use to destroy their waste."